Golden Pumpkin Dal Soup Recipe

I attended my first traditional Indian wedding celebration last weekend when my friend Sejal got married here in San Francisco. I was spellbound from the minute we arrived at the Raas Garba on Friday evening. The Rass Garba is a casual pre-wedding celebration to honor the bride and groom where the guests spend the night dancing to traditional Rass and Garba music, eating potluck style, and enjoying each others company. Sejal's family and friends descended on the Mill Valley community center just as the sun was starting to set and the air was starting to cool off a bit after a hot day.

Dancing at the Raas Garba

As we walked toward the main building we were greeted by the fragrance of toasted spices riding the breeze through the main room and out into the courtyard. We made our way into the party and I was instantly captivated by the remarkable scene unfolding before me.

Henna hands

The women wore vibrant, flowing saris of every color. They had bangles of gold and gemstones stacked up their wrists, and some had intricate henna patterns on their skin. Fabric, gold, shimmer, and sparkle was everywhere you looked. The men all wore kurtas and sherwanis also with beautiful details and stitching. The eating and dancing (alcohol free) went on until midnight at which point everyone departed to prepare for the following day which would include the daytime Hindu wedding ceremony, the groom's procession (complete with white horse through downtown San Francisco), and the reception dinner later in the evening.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful and took place under an intricate canopy built inside the Federal Building downtown. A traditional Hindu wedding ceremony apparently takes about 5 hours, this one was about a hour and a half, and was kindly translated into English so more of us could understand the meaning and imagery so important to this rite of passage.

Dancing at the Raas Garba

The food throughout the weekend was wonderful; rich curries, spicy lentils, rices, crackers, breads, and fudgy sweets infused with cardamom goodness.

Unsurprisingly, I immediately felt the urge to try my hand at a couple traditional Indian dishes and came home and combed the pages of Yamuna Devi's Art of Vegetarian Cooking for inspiration. I saw a stack of sugar pie pumpkins at the grocery market a couple days back and the proceeded to pick this golden pumpkin soup recipe to try.

I followed the recipe closely - and let me tell you, the ingredient list was extensive; fresh curry leaves, peeled pumpkin, ginger, tumeric, cumin, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, hing powder, and coriander just for for starters. The soup was quite easy to make over the course of an afternoon and it smelled delicious. The only problem was the texture. The instructions indicate that the soup should end up creamy, and it just wasn't. It was quite thin --flavorful, but thin. You are supposed to be able to whisk the well cooked pumpkin and dal (or yellow split peas) into a creamy smoothness with a hand whisk. This is one of those cases where I definately would have needed one of those immersion blenders.

I'm usually pretty good about being able to pick out strong recipes, but this one seemed to be a bit off (I know this book is very well respected, so I will try a few more recipes from it to see if I have better luck). In the case of this recipe, half as much water may be the easy fix.

Let me know if any of you have any favorite Indian cookbooks that you cook from regularly with success -- I'm pretty light on the Indian front. I've picked up quite a few of Madhur Jaffrey's books at the library and bookstore, but wasn't sure which one to start with (they all look great)...

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In some of the early entries on this site I didn't request permission to run the recipe I was writing about from the publisher so it won't appear here. The majority of entries on 101 Cookbooks will have the recipes attached, this just happens to be one of the ones that doesn't. You can find the referral to the book it came from at the top of the post.

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Really enjoyed this article--and the photos too. You have a wonderful eye that much is true!


My favorite is Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I use the recipes at least twice a week and most of them have turned into regular meals at our home. The book has an endless amount of side dishes and they're all very easy and quick to make with few ingredients. Fabulous photos.


I love the pictures in this post. The beautiful orange pumpkin and the dancers from the wedding are fantastic!


Hi Heidi~ I just encountered your site and AMAZING photos! Are you a photographer as well? Your friend's wedding photos and the pumpkin, really really captivating. I also enjoy your writing. Looking forward to more in the future~


U have such beautiful pictures on your blog! That pumpkin is making me want some pie or a pumpkin shake!


That cookbook, the Art of Vegetarian Indian, is great - give it a second try. My main complaint with it is that she's very fussy, but that seems maybe to be the Indian cooking writing style? There's a couple of little salads toward the back - one of grated carrots, radish & coconut, the other with carrots, red pepper and almond - that are spectacular. My sister and I cook quite a bit of Indian. Our other favorite is Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian (not exclusively Indian). My sister has another that she's made some incredible stuff with, I'll try to track down the name of it.


heidi, you captured some amazing pics of sejal! she looks stunning. my co-worker (who is indian) ground up her own curry spice mix for me which i should share with you. i am unsure really how to use it, as i am too "light on the indian front." :)


Looking forward to your cookbook ! As a vegetarian I can never get enough good veggie cookbooks !


Heidi, Today is my birthday, so I found it a lovely present at work that you had a new posting. In addition, I just rec'd the cookbook you mention as a b-day present, so I look forwared to trying some recipes this weekend. Your writing, and photographs are such a treat.


Sorry for the confusion Danni-- This site really started out as a private site where I was cooking through some of my cookbooks, and taking notes.....and has evolved from there, but was never intended to function as a recipe database. I try to link to the recipe if I can find in online anywhere, and I often try out recipes from major magazines and link to those online. But I want to honor the author/publisher copyrights. Most of the books in my collection are available in many bookstores and libraries, so people track them down that way as well. Sorry for the hassle. A few entries that are posted w/ links to the recipes: Triple Chocolate Cake Thin Mint Cookies Pistachio Apricot Oatmeal Cookies Hibiscus Margaritas (instructions there) Gelato (recipe there) Otsu


Forgive me, but where is the recipie ?? I clicked the link at the top and got an ad from amazon...I'd love to try it, but expected a recipie :)


Hi Heidi, I like to read your short stories and these photoos you took are wonderful. I find it comforting that I'm not the only one writing things like: 'use less water' or 'add more stock' in the margin of my books. I only own 1 real curry book and I love it. The Ultimate Curry Bible from Maddhur Jaffrey. Maybe you've already seen it. It's a beautiful book with all kinds of curries from all over the world. With the history! I only ever seem to make the Chicken Tikka Masala from it though, as my english boyfriend loves it. I dont get the consistency as is noted in the book so cook it longer with no lid on. Definitely worth a try! Especially if you use chopstick for skewers and you get the real woodfire smell with it ;-)


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